The Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) president, Advocate Sidney Pilane is fighting a bitter war to defeat his colleagues, Advocate Duma Boko of Botswana National Front (BNF) and Dumelang Saleshando of Botswana Congress Party (BCP) in the battle for the soul of the UDC.
The coalition party, which also comprise of the Botswana Peoples Party (BPP) is at war with itself, the centre of dispute being accumulation of power by the involved leaders. In a new twist of events, BCP and BNF found themselves fighting against the axis of Pilane’s BMD as well as the BPP. The new warfare has been launched under the legality of the coalition constitution, which has caused what look likes an impending procreated battle.
The BNF and BCP leadership announced during their party conferences held during the presidential holidays that a new constitution, signed by only Boko and Saleshando was submitted to the Registrar of Societies. This has however been contested by the other contracting partners, BMD and BPP. Part of the objection by the duo is that the constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is not what has been agreed during the Negotiation Stream and Upper Negotiation Stream. There has also been a dispute on whether the talks were taking place between BCP and the UDC or it was between BCP and other three coalition partners.
The constitution submitted by Boko and Saleshando is an amended version of what was agreed by the negotiation streams including the upper stream. The amendments came about following the contested UDC February 2018 congress held at Boipuso. The amendments made to the initial constitution delivered by the negotiation team include; creating one Vice President position, as well as restoring the powers of sitting president as provided for by the republic’s constitution when UDC is in power.
Other provisions, in the constitution submitted by Boko include giving the UDC president power to make unilateral decisions such as expelling a member of the UDC from the coalition as well as the power to repossesses constituencies from contracting parties for re-distribution. This submission of the constitution, which observers said it will deal decisively with Pilane, was followed by the resolutions of the two parties to reclaim constituencies allocated to BMD, a contracting partner expect the one held
The constitution submitted by BMD and BPP to the register of societies is the one delivered by the negotiation streams, but without the input of the disputed congress. The constitution recognizes that the four contracting partners are equal members and sets out how the coalition will behave when in power with regards to the exercise of the executive. The constitution is clear that once UDC wins power, the country should immediately go through constitutional review that will see what the party envisages become part of the national constitution.
These powers in essence include, a president with curtailed powers. The power will be vested in what is called President’s Executive Council to comprise all the president of coalition partners. Article 11 .5 indicate: ‘The executive authority of the Republic of Botswana shall, when the UDC is in power, vest in the President’s Executive Council, which authority shall be exercised jointly.
This power will include the power to appoint cabinet, head of public service, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chief Justice and other senior members in the public services. The constitution also express clearly that president of the UDC, shall be the State president, while Fist Vice President, one occupied currently by Pilane would be Deputy President, while the Secretary General of the UDC would Second Vice Presidents of Botswana. The BPP, which occupies the chairperson position, is guaranteed the most senior position in cabinet. The power to appoint cabinet minister is also taken away from the presidency and given to the executive council.
WHAT PILANE FEARS
If Boko and Saleshando’s submitted constitution see the green light, Pilane would lose his power within the UDC and in the future government of the coalition wins power. What currently obtains is that BCP and BNF are looking at giving Pilane and his BMD a non-deal by reclaiming all his constituencies except two where it is incumbent. This will strip Pilane off bargaining power within the party and leaving his influence in the affairs of the UDC insignificant.
Secondly, a proposed one VP constitution will compel the contracting partners to convene a congress where either Pilane or Saleshando will be given the post. As things stand, Saleshando undisputed favourite to take the crown, which would essentially leave Pilane in the lurch.
Pilane also does not want constitution proposed by his two colleagues because it will effectively give power to the UDC Congress as opposed to UDC NEC as Pilane hoped for in his constitution. In Pilane’s view, congress is not necessary because UDC is just an electoral arrangement and the true power should lies with the NEC. Pilane currently has the support of BPP NEC as well as Boko, who has been protecting him for some time now. Boko has made it clear that he is not in favour of anything that would break the UDC.
DUMELANG SALESHANDO PERSPECTIVE
I have hitherto refused to comment on the controversy that has been sparked by the submission of the UDC constitution to the Registrar of Societies. It is possible that some may interpret my silence to be a tacit admission of guilt to all the claims by the leaders of BPP and BMD on why the constitution should not have been submitted for registration. I still do not see the need to respond comprehensively at this stage and allow the leader of the UDC as the chief spokesperson space to address the issues raised by our colleagues.
For the benefit of BCP members and supporters, to whom I remain accountable, I just want to make the following 3 points clear;
1. The BCP in 2016 entered into negotiations with the UDC. The UDC (BPP, BNF and BMD) decided that they will not negotiate as separate entities but as a single unit under the leadership of Comrade Duma Boko. The stream that negotiated the constitution had six BCP representatives while the UDC also had six. Claims that each of the four parties had two representatives are false, there were two parties to the negotiations each represented by 6 people.
2. It was agreed that the final decision makers on all issues shall be the presidents of the UDC and the BCP. This point has been made by none other than Boko in the numerous meetings we addressed nationwide last year and never refuted by any member of the UDC until this month. When we signed the agreement on by-elections between the UDC and BCP, it was only signed by myself for the BCP and Boko for the UDC. It was for the same reason that the 2 of us signed off the constitution for submission to the Registrar of Societies.
3. Both UDC and BCP agreed to subject the constitution to congress scrutiny and approval by our members. Both sides knew that some of their proposals may be rejected by congress. The two presidency model for the UDC was a brainchild of the BCP leadership but this proposal was shot down by congress. That is how democracy works, the voice of the membership has to be respected.
It is has been difficult for me to understand why people who left the BDP because of a leader who did not respect congress decisions want to propose that a committee of 16 people (UDC NEC) should have powers over congress. Strange, very strange… The position of the 2018 BCP congress is that the UDC should be fixed as it is clearly broken, broken by all of us who are its members. If it cannot be fixed, it must be reconfigured urgently as we are running out of time. Not fixing it will amount to PLAYING FIDDLE WHILE ROME BURNS
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.